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Junior Blair Townsend registered the first 100-yard receiving game of his career vs. Montana with a career-high 13 catches for 152 yards.
Game Notes: Defending Big Sky champs await UND
Courtesy: Ryan Powell, UND Media Relations
Release: 10/23/2012
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. - For the second straight week, North Dakota will renew a gridiron rivalry with a border team as the Green and White travel to play No. 4 Montana State on Saturday. Kickoff vs. the Bobcats is set for 3:05 p.m. CT/2:05 p.m. MT from Bobcat Stadium.

• These two squads have met 28 times before, which is the most meetings for UND against a current Big Sky Conference team, but this contest will end a nearly 30-year drought in the series. 
• UND defeated MSU 21-3 at home in the last meeting during the 1983 season and has won four straight in the series, but the Bobcats hold a slim lead overall at 15-13-1. 
• UND snapped a three-game losing skid with its dramatic 40-34 victory over Montana on Saturday at the Alerus Center. With the win, the Green and White improved to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in Big Sky play.
• With a No. 4 ranking in both The Sports Network/ and FCS Coaches polls, the Bobcats will be the higest-ranked opponent that UND has faced since moving to the Division I level.  
• UND’s three league losses have come to the current No. 1 (Eastern Washington; 6-1, 5-0 BSC), No. 11 (Cal Poly; 7-0, 5-0 BSC) and No. 13 (Northern Arizona, 6-1, 4-0 BSC) teams in the FCS polls. Those three teams are a combined 19-2 and 14-0 in the Big Sky this season. 
• If you factor in the San Diego State loss (49-41), the four teams to beat UND this season are a combined 24-5. The Aztecs are now 5-3 and 3-1 in Mountain West play. 
• Montana State is coming off a bye week, but was dealt its first loss of the season two Saturdays ago at home when Eastern Washington defeated the Bobcats 27-24. The Eagles, who defeated UND 55-17 on Oct. 6, are currently No. 1 in the FCS polls.
• EWU is the only common opponent UND and Montana State have played in 2012.
• The head coaching matchup features two of the four finalists from the 2011 Liberty Mutual FCS Coach of the Year Award. Montana State head coach Rob Ash won the award after leading the Bobcats to a 10-3 overall record and a share of the Big Sky Conference title. MSU also advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA FCS Playoffs in 2011, which was the team’s second straight trip to the postseason. UND head coach Chris Mussman was also a finalist after leading UND to an 8-3 overall record and a share of the Great West Conference title.
• This will be the 26th time UND has played in the state of Montana. The team is 10-15 in those contests. 

Fans wanting to follow all the action from UND’s first trip to Bozeman, Mont. since a thrilling 28-27 victory in the 1982 season can do so in a variety of ways.  

TV: Max Media (locally in Montana)  
Video: Big Sky TV ( - FREE webcast)
Radio: UND Radio Network (96.1 FM — Grand Forks) - pregame show at 2 p.m. CT 
Audio: UND Radio Network broadcast also available at
Chat: Football SID Ryan Powell will chat live at
Stats: Live stats available at
Twitter: For live scoring updates and game notes follow @UNDFootball

Junior wide receiver Greg Hardin caught a 32-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left to give UND a 40-34 victory over Montana. Those 32 yards broke the Big Sky record for single-game receiving yards as he finished with 333 yards and three touchdowns in the contest. Hardin also caught a career-high 12 passes from senior Braden Hanson, who had a record-breaking day of his own. The left-hander finished 42-for-61 for 660 yards and five touchdowns in the triumph over the Grizzlies. The 42 completions were a UND record, while the 660 yards passing were also Big Sky and school records for a single game. Hanson and Hardin got off to a fast start as the home team jumped out to a 31-17 lead at halftime. Hanson had 410 yards passing in the first 30 minutes, which would have been the third-highest single game total and Hardin already had UND’s single-game receiving record in tote with eight catches for 243 yards and a pair of scores.
Here is a list of honors that wide receiver Greg Hardin and quarterback Braden Hanson collected following their electrifying performances in the 40-34 victory over Montana.

Hardin (career-high 12 catches for 333 yards and three touchdowns)
• ROOT Sports Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week
• College Sporting News All-Star
• The Sports Network National Co-Offensive Player of the Week
• CFPA National Performer of the Week
• CFPA National Wide Receiver of the Week
• CS Journal/ National Player of the Week
• College Sports Madness National and Big Sky Player of the Week

Hanson (42-for-61, 660 yards and five TDs)
• National Offensive Player of the Week
• College Sporting News All-Star
• CFPA honorable mention National Quarterback of the Week

After the dust, or in this case those tiny rubber pellets from the Alerus Center turf, settled on Saturday night, the UND offense had churned out its most yardage in school history. The result was a crushing impact on a number of Big Sky and school single-game records. Here’s a look at those yardage totals:

• 702: single-game UND record for total offense
• 660: single-game UND and Big Sky records for passing offense by a team and an individual (Braden Hanson) - third most by a quarterback in FCS history
• 420: single-game UND record for all-purpose yards by an individual (Greg Hardin) - second most in Big Sky history (437; Ryan Fuqua of Portland State vs. Eastern Washington)
• 333: single-game UND and Big Sky records for individual receiving yards (Greg Hardin) - fourth most by a receiver in FCS history

The Hanson-to-Hardin connection was not the only one working for the southpaw signal caller on Saturday. Fellow wideout Blair Townsend had a breakout game as well in what was just his fourth career start. Townsend hauled in a career-high 13 passes from Hanson for a career-high 152 yards. For Townsend, it was his first 100-yard receiving game as he was named an honorable mention National Wide Receiver of the Week by CFPA. He entered the game having caught three passes for 36 yards in the first seven games.  His 13 catches equalled his total from his sophomore season (13 for 129). Townsend actually scored the first touchdown of the game on a five-yard toss from Hanson. It was the fourth career touchdown for the converted high school quarterback. 

Anytime you amass a school-record 702 yards of offense, there will be plenty of big plays involved. Junior Greg Hardin was responsible for 10 of the 15 20-plus yardage plays strung together by the UND offense and special teams on Saturday vs. Montana. He had seven receptions, including the longest play from scrimmage of the season - an 81-yard reception, which ironically did not go for a touchdown. Three of his career-high 12 receptions did go for touchdowns, however, and all three were of 20-plus yards (39, 43 and 32). Hardin also added trio of kickoff returns of 20-plus yards (31, 20 and 36) to finish with a school-record 420 all-purpose yards. Senior Braden Hanson completed a school-record 42 passes with 13 of those going for 20-plus yards. Junior Blair Townsend and redshirt freshman Jameer Jackson each had three 20-plus yard receptions during the game.  

After Montana took a 34-31 lead late in the third quarter thanks to a string of 17-unanswered points, the UND defense responded in a big way to keep the offense within striking distance. The unit forced five straight punts, then senior Jay Nelson registered a strip sack on the final play of the game to preserve the 40-34 victory. Nelson had seven tackles, three quarterback hurries and the first two-sack game of his career in the win over the Griz. Sophomore Baylee Carr was also instrumental in the victory, posting a career-high 10 tackles and forcing a fumble. The defense forced Montana to punt nine times, which was the most by a UND opponent in 2012.

After scoring 14 of its first 20 touchdowns through the air, the UND offense reverted back  to the ground attack for seven of its next nine scores. But, the unit has gone back to the air over the last two games to account for nine of its 10 touchdowns. The record for team passing touchdowns in a season was set in 2007 when UND accounted for 26 aerial scores. Fifth-year seniors Marcus Hendrickson (15) and Braden Hanson (10) have already accounted for 25 with three games remaining. Current running backs coach Danny Freund threw 24 of those in 2007, which is the individual single-season mark. The all-time passing yardage mark will likely fall as well this week at Montana State. The 2003 team holds that mark at 2,741.

Saturday’s matchup at Bobcat Stadium will feature the Big Sky’s top total offense vs. the league’s top total defense. The visitors will boast that top offensive unit (472.9/ypg), which ranks ninth nationally, and will enter the game riding the momentum of a 702-yard outburst against Montana on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Bobcats’ defense is yielding only 300.9 ypg to its opponents. Scoring wise, UND comes in averaging 37.4 ppg (11th nationally, 2nd in Big Sky), while MSU is giving up 23.7 ppg (48th nationally, 4th in the Big Sky). In comparison, the Bobcats’ offense is averaging 35.3 ppg, which is third best in the Big Sky. UND’s defense is 10th in the league, allowing 33.5 ppg.

The North Dakota football team has ventured into its opponents red zone 33 times already this season and has come away with a touchdown on 23 of those occasions.  The offense is scoring 91.3 percent of the time (also has seven field goals), which is the third best mark in the Big Sky and 12th best in the FCS. The unit has come up empty only three times.

Junior Greg Hardin became just the third receiver in UND history to eclipse the 2,000-yard receiving mark in regular season play on Saturday vs. Montana. His 333 yards pushed his career total to 2,228 and season total to 943. He needs 57 more yards this season to become just the sixth player in UND history to register a 1,000-yard receiving season.

Here is a look at his 2012 season:
• Has 46 catches for 943 yards and ranks first in the Big Sky and is second in the FCS with 12 receiving touchdowns.
• Has four multiple-touchdown games on the season now and a trio of three-touchdown games.  
• The 333-yard effort against Montana was the eighth 100-yard receiving game of his career and fourth of the season.
• His 943 yards are the most by a Big Sky receiver and second most in the FCS.  
• Registered a then career-high 190-yard receiving game vs. Portland State (Sept. 8) and scored three touchdowns to earn the CFPA National Wide Receiver of the Week award.
• Opened the season with three-consecutive 100-yard receiving games, marking the first time in his career he had achieved that.
• His 27-yard circus catch in the second quarter of the Portland State contest was the No. 2 ‘Play of the Day’ on ESPN’s Sportscenter. Hardin climbed over a six-foot-four PSU defensive back to make that grab, which was voted the No. 2 play on Sports Center’s Top Plays of the Day. 

Prior to the Montana game, redshirt freshman Jameer Jackson was added to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List. Against the Griz, he showed why he is one of 19 FCS freshman on that list. The Brooklyn Park native turned in his second straight 100-yard receiving game after catching eight passes for 124 yards in the 40-34 victory over Montana. Jackson has emerged as one of the top rookie wideouts in the FCS this season.  Here is where he ranks among his fellow freshmen nationally:

41 Jameer Jackson, North Dakota
41 Sean Hill, Appalachian State
36 Spearmon Robinson, Western Carolina

577 Jameer Jackson, North Dakota
541 Sean Hill, Appalachian State
509 D.J. Ward, Stephen F. Austin

6 Sean Hill, Appalachian State
6 Jameer Jackson, North Dakota 

• UND is 65-14 in 11 seasons at the Alerus Center, including a 10-0 mark in the DII playoffs. 
• Head coach Chris Mussman is 19-7 all-time at UND’s home facility and improved to 3-0 in season openers at the Alerus thanks to the 66-0 victory over SD Mines on Aug. 30. 
• In those 19 home wins under Mussman’s guidance, UND is averaging 32.2 ppg and the team is 17-2 at home when scoring 20 or more.

Senior Brett Cameron was named an honorable mention National Punter of the Week and junior Will Lewis earned the same distinction for National Defensive Back of the Week following their efforts vs. No. 16 Northern Arizona. Cameron averaged 43.5 yards on four punts, including a long of 50 yards. He also pinned two inside the 20-yard line. Lewis recorded a pair of interceptions, which were the first of his career, against an NAU team that had not turned the ball over since its season opener at Arizona State (four games). With those two picks, Lewis now leads the team.

Senior Mitch Sutton scored six rushing touchdowns and added one receiving score in 2009, but over the next two seasons, the rugged running back only found the end zone twice. His fortunes have changed in his final collegiate campaign as Sutton has already produced nine rushing touchdowns through eight games. Sutton’s career-high rushing scores are tied for the most by a Big Sky back this season. Sutton saw his streak of scoring at least one rushing touchdown in five straight games come to a close vs. Montana. He had a career-high three rushing scores in the Big Sky opener vs. Sac State.

North Dakota’s special teams unit blocked three kicks against Portland State on Sept. 8 to pick up where it left off from last season after leading the FCS with 10 blocked kicks. Since moving up to the Division I level in 2008, the UND special teams have a total of 31 blocks.

Offensive lineman Shea Walker has added two more blocks to UND’s 2012 total since the Portland State game. Walker blocked a 52-yard field goal at Sac State and deflected an extra point at Eastern Washington. 

It took a 660-yard passing game and 61 pass attempts vs. Montana, but through eight games, the UND offense has finally attempted more passes (284) than rushes on the season. This may not seem like a big deal, but considering the run-first mentality of this football program through out its entire history, it certainly is an interesting fact. Case in point, the UND offense has never attempted more passes than rushes in a season.  

Sophomore Ben Peters was named an honorable mention  National Linebacker of the Week by College Football Performance Awards on Oct. 7. Peters collected a career-high eight tackles, registered half a sack and a tackle for a loss, plus forced a fumble at Eastern Washington this past Saturday. Peters is the 10th UND player to be honored by the organization this season.

The North Dakota football team went out to California’s capital city looking to make a statement on Sept. 22 and the team wearing all white uniforms did just that. UND defeated Sacramento State 35-13 in its Big Sky debut behind the powerful running of senior Mitch Sutton and a defense that forced three Hornet turnovers and stopped the Sac State offense on fourth down twice. The 22-point margin of victory was the highest-ever by a league team in its first Big Sky game dating back to the league’s inception in 1963.  Sutton rushed for 162 yards and saved the first three-touchdown game of his career for a historic day on UND’s football timeline.  

North Dakota is the not the only newcomer on the block in the Big Sky this season. The league added both UND and Southern Utah as all-sport playing members this past summer, while Cal Poly - today’s opponent - and UC Davis were added as football-playing only members. All four of those teams spent the last four seasons playing in the Great West.  Southern Utah and Cal Poly also won their Big Sky debuts last Saturday. The Thunderbirds rallied from an 18-point deficit to defeat Portland State 49-42, while the Mustangs also rallied from a double-digit deficit to knock off UC Davis 28-20 on their home turf.

Former North Dakota great and Minnesota Viking standout Jim Kleinsasser became the 98th football player in school history to be inducted into the UND Letterwinners Athletics Hall of Fame to the kickoff with Cal Poly on Sept. 29. Kleinsasser wrapped up his impressive career at UND in 1998 before being drafted by the Vikings in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He retired in 2011 after 13 seasons with the Purple and Gold and still remains the highest-drafted player in UND history. He was inducted into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

Senior punter Brett Cameron became the third North Dakota football player to earn national recognition from College Football Performance Awards  this season after the organization named him its National Punter of the Week on Sept. 23. Cameron joined quarterback Marcus Hendrickson (Sept. 9 vs. Portland State) and wide receiver Greg Hardin (Sept. 9 vs. Portland State) in being named the top player at their respective positions in a given week. He averaged 47.4 yards per punt on five attempts, pinning three inside the 20-yard line and booting two of 50-plus yards.

Senior Marcus Hendrickson threw for 434 yards in the 49-41 loss to San Diego State, which was then the second highest single-game total in UND history.  He also became the first quarterback in school history to throw 10 total touchdown passes in back-to-back games. Three of his four touchdown passses went to junior Greg Hardin, who became the first player in school history to register back-to-back games with three touchdown receptions. Hardin now has 24 career receiving touchdowns in just 27 games, which stands second on UND’s all-time regular season charts. 

A week after netting the College Football Performance Awards National Quarterback and Wide Receiver of the Week, the duo were honorable mention honorees for those same awards following their efforts at San Diego State (Sept. 15).

Senior quarterback Marcus Hendrickson and junior wide receiver Greg Hardin shared the national spotlight in the FCS ranks following their record-breaking efforts in a 45-37 victory over Portland State (Sept. 8). Hendrickson was named the National Performer of the Week and Quarterback of the Week by College Football Performance Awards. He was also named the ROOT SPORTS Big Sky Co-Offensive Player of the Week and The Sports Network Co-Offensive Player of the Week. He was also named a Natioanl All Star by The College Sporting News. In his first career start, the right-handed signal caller went 16-for-25 for 294 yards and tied the UND single-game record with six touchdown passes. Five of those came in the first half. He also led the team with 50 yards rushing. Hardin was named the Wide Receiver Performer of the Week by College Football Performance Awards and also earned the Offensive Player of the Week accolade.Hardin equaled his career-highs in receiving touchdowns (three), while eclipsing his career-high with 190 receiving yards (six catches).

• The North Dakota offense churned out a then school record 653 yards of total offense in the team’s 66-0 season-opening win over South Dakota School of Mines. It was the most lopsided victory in program history since a 69-0 victory in 1972 over Morningside in North Central Conference play.
• Only Old Dominion, who totalled 723 yards in a 57-23 victory over Duquesne, had more yardage at the FCS level in week one. 
• Four different running backs churned out 370 yards on the ground, which was the fifth most by a FCS team in the opening week. Junior Jake Miller led the quartet with a 178-yard effort on only 12 carries. He averaged 14.8 yards per tote, which was second among FCS running backs with double-digit carries (Indiana State’s Ezayi Youyoute, 14.9/c; 11 for 164). 
• Redshirt freshman P.J. Sparks rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown in his collegiate debut.  He reeled off the longest play from scrimmage for UND with a 45-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.  
• Eight players accounted for the nine touchdowns scored by UND with senior running back Mitch Sutton being the only one to score twice. 
• The 66 points were the most in the Division I era by a UND team. 
The quarterbacking duo of Braden Hanson and Marcus Hendrickson combined to put up the most efficient passing game in UND football history in the season opener versus South Dakota School of Mines.  The fifth-year senior duet went 18-for-20 for 283 yards and four touchdowns to post a combined passer rating of 274.86. Hanson started things off by connecting on 13 of his 14 passes for 188 yards and two  touchdowns. His only incompletion was on a throw away to avoid a sack. Hanson’s passer rating of 252.80 was the best single-game effort at the FCS level in week one. Hendrickson relieved Hanson midway through the second quarter and also only missed on one  of his passes (six attempts). He finished with 95 yards, including a 44-yard scoring strike to Greg Hardin that was the first of his career. He added an 11-yard scoring toss to Blair Townsend to cap a 31-point second quarter.

Seniors Ian McGurran and Ross Brenneman will serve as the permanent team captains for the 2012 season. Both players were voted captains of the 2011 squad at the conclusion of the season as well. What made the designation even more special for McGurran is that his father, John, also served as a football captain on the 1982 UND team. The McGurrans become just the second father-son tandem to serve as UND captains after Glenn “Red” Jarrett and his son, James, were both captains as well. The elder Jarrett was a captain on the 1930 team, while James served as a captain for the 1959 team. McGurran is the only player on the 2012 roster to have started all 34 games since the start of the 2009 season. Brenneman has started 32 of 34 games.

UND will be in a new league this season and with that usually comes new opponents, but the Green and White have actually played eight of the nine Big Sky teams on its docket. The only new opponent in that bunch is Eastern Washington - the 2010 FCS National Champion. There are two more new opponents on the schedule, but SD Mines and San Diego State are both non-conference tilts. Portland State, who is a Big Sky member, is the other non-conference game, but UND has played the Vikings twice before. Montana and Montana State are old North Central Conference rivalries that will be renewed with the membership in the BSC. UND has played Montana State 28 times and Montana 19 times before on the gridiron. The UND gridders will play those schools on back-to-back Saturdays in October this season.

Head coach Chris Mussman’s assistant coaching staff stayed in tact for the most part with only three new additions being added to the fold. Wes Nurse will coach the cornerbacks and joins the staff after one season in the same role at UC Davis. Jeff Richter, a former UND defensive lineman, will begin his first season in 2012 as the team’s tight ends coach. Kyle Myers, who was a volunteer assistant in 2010 returns in a paid capacity and will assist with the linebackers. Mike Mannausau will have a new title to work with in 2012 as he was promoted to associate head coach and will be the sole defensive coordinator this season. Josh Kotelnicki was named assistant head coach during the summer and has added that title to his role as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. Luke Schleusner will coach the position he played at UND as he moves over from coaching the tight ends and fullbacks to directing the wide receivers. 

North Dakota made its final season in the Great West a memorable one as the team flipped its record from 2010, improving by five games to finish 8-3 overall and finish ranked in a national poll for the first time in its Division I history (No. 23; Sports Network/ Poll).  It was the third best turnaround in program history. Head coach Chris Mussman earned GWC Coach of the Year honors and was also a finalist for the Liberty Mutual and Eddie Robinson FCS Coach of the Year Awards.

UND went winless on the road in 2010, dropping all five games away from the Alerus Center. However, in 2011, the story was a little different away from home as UND went 3-2 with all three of those wins coming against current Big Sky members (Northern Colorado, Southern Utah and UC Davis).

UND captured its 25th football conference title in program history when it defeated South Dakota 38-37 to earn a share of the Great West crown in last year’s season finale. The league title was the team’s first at the Division I level after winning 24 North Central Conference titles at the Division II level. 

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